By Bob Uphues
Brookfield is poised to launch its long-anticipated Ogden Avenue Corridor Study early next year now that officials have selected a consulting firm to lead the effort.
At their meeting on Jan. 11, 2021, Brookfield trustees are expected to approve a roughly $75,000 professional services agreement with Kimley-Horn, a national planning firm with local offices in Chicago and Lisle.
Kimley-Horn was chosen from a field of 16 planning firms that responded to a request for proposals in March. Representatives from a field of five finalists were interviewed in November by an ad hoc committee of Village Trustee Katie Kaluzny, Planning and Zoning Commissioner Karen Miller, Village Manager Timothy Wiberg, Village Planner Elyse Vukelich and Community Development Director Michael Schwarz.
The selection process was delayed by a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, which struck just as RFPs were sought and the departure of Ross Klicker, the village's former community development director, in June.
According to Schwarz, Kimley-Horn was an attractive candidate to lead the study, not only because they submitted the lowest price for the job, but because they have planning experience in Brookfield.
Kimley-Horn was one of the consulting firms used by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning for the Brookfield Comprehensive Plan, which the village board adopted in 2018.
In addition, two of the Kimley-Horn planners selected as part of the firm's five-person team for the Ogden Avenue Corridor Study worked directly on aspects of Brookfield's comprehensive plan.
The team also includes a market analyst from the firm S.B Friedman. It will be that person who will look at trends and make sure whatever plan is adopted will work from a market standpoint, said Schwarz.
Project Manager Daniel Grove, who appeared via Zoom before the village board at its Dec. 14 meeting, said he was "a fan" of the village and quite familiar with that stretch of Ogden Avenue in particular.
"We see this corridor as having tremendous attributes, tremendous amenities, just like the rest of the village," Grove told trustees. "We are approaching this not coming in to redo the whole corridor. We're looking for solutions that are going to provide the village and staff flexibility and adaptability in how you implement this as you move forward into the future."
According to Kimley-Horn's proposal, the firm will create a project website where all plans, graphics, reports and surveys will be compiled. The team will interact with Ogden Avenue stakeholders, assess the corridor for redevelopment opportunities, create a vision for Ogden Avenue and apply urban design principles to help achieve it.
The firm will seek public input at points during the study, which is expected to take between six and nine months to complete. The pandemic, particularly early on, will make interaction with the public a little more challenging, but Grove said Kimley-Horn has online tools that can replicate workshop and open house formats.
The end product, Grove said, will include a "toolbox" to help village staff and elected officials implement the vision laid out in the final study document.
"We want to go through the corridor and come up with a rubric that we're going to apply to help us develop a series of priority sites," Grove said. "Those might be adjacent to the Metra station, they might be sites all along the corridor. We know the corridor has some challenges in terms of the depth of the sites and the size of parcels and ownership, so we really want to go through and understand what's going to have the best opportunity to be redeveloped."
Schwarz said that once the village board approves the professional services agreement next month, staff and Kimley-Horn will start working out a project timeline.
"While the comprehensive plan is great at presenting the big-picture situation, looking at a specific corridor is going to be fun. It will get into what types of businesses will be attracted to some of these parcels," said Schwarz, who pointed to the Congress Park Metra station area as a particular focus for redevelopment. "As planners, this is the kind of stuff we love to do."